- What to Look for in a Cheap TV Service
- Best Cheap TV Service
- No contract: Sling TV
- Best TV service: DISH Network
- Best TV service bundles: DIRECTV
- Best Alternatives to Cable
- HOW TO CUT THE CORD: How We Cut Out Cable & Satellite & Still Watch Everything - Including SPORTS!
- Wait, why should I pay for TV?
- Internet and cable TV bundles
- Other Cheap TV Service to Consider
- Best Cable TV Providers of 2020
- Streaming TV Deals
- The 8 Best Cable TV Alternatives for 2020 (Rated & Reviewed)
- Internet and TV Packages
- Xfinity: Best cable TV provider of 2020
- Cutting the Cord
- How to Cut the Cord and Never Pay for Cable TV Again
- 1. Disney+ ($7–13 per month)
- Best cheapest cable options
- Frequent Questions
- The 7 Best Alternatives to Cable TV in 2019
- Terms to Know
- BOTTOM LINE
- More from CreditDonkey:
Here are the best cheaper alternatives to cable TV. Watching TV doesn't have to be expensive. These TV providers offer popular channels at an inexpensive price.
Read on to learn what features to look out for, and what it might cost you.
What to Look for in a Cheap TV Service
Before we get into the recommendations, there are a few things to consider when deciding on a TV service provider:
- Channel lineup.
TV service providers typically sell you a bundle of channels for a monthly fee. What you pay depends on what you include in your package. Naturally, more channels mean higher fees. Getting all the popular channels in one package will be costly, so if you don't have the budget for it, work around the channels that are essential for you.
DISH vs DIRECTV: DISH is the best tv service provider for the money, but DIRECTV offers more HD channels. DIRECTV is also known for better sports packages.
DISH is known for the better DVR that automatically skips commercials in selected primetime recordings.
- Price. This will tie in with what you want to watch, but remember to take other costs into account.
For example, some providers give you a low introductory price the first year, but the price goes up in the second year. Also, watch out for other fees, such as installation fees, regional sports fees, monthly service/equipment fees, etc. All these add to your final costs.
- Equipment and Features. Different providers provide different equipment and/or features.
For instance, some providers rely entirely on the internet to channel their content, while others need to use a satellite signal. Some provide on-demand content, while others stream live TV. Even DVRs can have different storage and ad-skipping abilities.
Look for features which suit your needs. If you live with a family where everyone has a favorite show playing at 9 pm, look for a DVR feature which can record multiple shows at once. Some DVR units can also stream different shows on different TVs at the same time, so no one has to wait their turn to watch a show.
Compare: DIRECTV and DISH
Best Cheap TV Service
Here are the top tv service providers.
There isn't one "best" or "cheapest" provider per se - it really depends on what your needs are versus the cost. Here are our recommendations for each service and what their best features are.
No contract: Sling TV
Unlike traditional satellite TV, Sling TV is an internet streaming app. This means it relies on your internet connection to deliver content (as opposed to a satellite signal).
The upside of this is that you don't have to worry about installation or equipment fees.
With Sling TV, you pay month-to-month, and you can start and stop anytime. There are no startup fees, cancellation penalties, or equipment rental costs. This allows you to be more flexible with your budget.
Sling currently offers 3 options:
- "Orange" plan ($25/month):
- 28 live channels, including ESPN, CNN, AMC, TNT and TBS.
- Can only stream one channel at a time, whether recording or watching live.
- 28 live channels, including ESPN, CNN, AMC, TNT and TBS.
- "Blue" plan ($25/month):
- 43 live channels (although it doesn't include channels like Disney and ESPN)
- Stream up to three channels at the same time.
- 43 live channels (although it doesn't include channels like Disney and ESPN)
- Sling "Orange" + Sling "Blue" ($40/month):
- All channels from both plans
- Can stream up to four channels at the same time.
- All channels from both plans
For an additional $5/month, you also get Sling TV's cloud DVR feature, which lets you record up to 50 hours. That isn't much compared to other providers like DISH or DIRECTV, so if DVR is important for you, consider other options.
Sling TV also isn't supported on all platforms, so be sure to check beforehand if it's compatible with your device.
Finally, because it's an internet streaming app, Sling TV will eat into your data. The app is best for people who have fast internet speeds with unlimited data.
Best TV service: DISH Network
If channels and programming are important to you, we recommend DISH. Sure, they have a two-year contract, but their pricing is locked for that period. Unlike other providers like DIRECTV, you won't find a surprise subscription hike in the second year.
DISH offers four different packages.
The options are:
- America's Top 120 ($59.99/month): You get 190 channels, including USA, CMT, Disney Channel, ESPN, E!, and Local Channels (CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, and CW).
- America's Top 120 Plus ($69.99/month): You get over 190 channels, including NFL Network and Regional Sports.
- America's Top 200 ($79.99/month): You get over 240 channels.
At this level, you get more of the premium channels, including Animal Planet, Lifetime Movie Network, and Discovery Family.
- America's Top 250 ($89.99/month): This is the ultimate package, with over 290 channels.
Some of the additional channels you get include STARZ Encore, The Movie Channel, and Fox Movie Channel.
Note: The prices are for a 24-month contract.
After 2 years, the monthly price will increase.
DISH's Hopper 3 DVR unit is also one of the best in the market, allowing you to record up to 16 different shows at once. With receivers, you can have up to eight unique streams in your home. This means you can have up to eight TVs in your home playing different channels at the same time.
The Hopper 3 also records up to 500 hours of HD content, and auto skips commercials.
Just look out for the added equipment costs, though. You'd have to buy DISH's Joey receivers ($7/month per Joey) for each TV in your home.
They also charge a monthly fee for their DVR service. Otherwise, DISH is a solid choice for TV enthusiasts.
Best TV service bundles: DIRECTV
- NFL Sunday Ticket
- Channel Packages
- AT&T Bundle
- Regional Sports Fee
- Pricing after 1st Year
Our Review: (4.5) DIRECTV is the largest satellite TV provider, offering a strong channel lineup and low introductory prices.
But is it a good value? Read on... Read full review
Compare DIRECTV Packages
If you're looking for both a TV service and an internet provider, we recommend the DIRECTV and internet bundle. For $65/month, you get DIRECTV's "Select" package as well as internet service by AT&T. Also, if you merge your internet and TV bill together, you'll get unlimited data for free.
Note: The TV package has a 24-month contract, while the internet contract is for 12 months.
You would need to have both accounts active throughout the two years. The $65/mo is the intro price for the first year.
Best Alternatives to Cable
In the 2nd year, the price goes to $106/mo. Price also reflects a $5/mo autopay discount.
HOW TO CUT THE CORD: How We Cut Out Cable & Satellite & Still Watch Everything - Including SPORTS!
The "Select" package features more than 150 channels, with big names such as Food Network, Disney, Discovery, AMC and Comedy Central.
You also get the Genie HD DVR unit and up to three additional receivers at no extra cost. You can record up to 200 hours of HD content and have four unique streams in your home.
The Genie is also 4K Ultra HD compatible, but only for limited titles.
Check with DIRECTV to see what these are.
As for the internet service, that will depend on where you are in the country.
AT&T's internet service isn't available in certain states. Check with them first to see if your area is covered and which internet service you'd be eligible for before subscribing.
Their ESPN and ESPN2 are already available with their CHOICE package and above, but if that's not enough, you can subscribe to their Sports Pack add-on ($13.99/month). This gives you access to 30 regional sports networks, like the MLB Network Strike Zone and Outdoor Channel.
You also get specialty sports channels that cover fly-fishing and horse racing, as well as international soccer.
Wait, why should I pay for TV?
- Because of the premium content.
Paying the subscription means paying for exclusive channels and programs. Love Game of Thrones? That's only on HBO. Want to watch the best touchdowns of the week? Catch them on NFL RedZone. Curious about sharks? Learn about them in "Shark Week" on Discovery.
The best and most popular shows will likely be on a premium channel, and you'd have to subscribe to watch them.
Tip: DISH Promo Codes and DIRECTV Coupons
- Hundreds of channels.
Paying for TV also means access to hundreds of channels. You don't have to be stuck watching re-runs of the same programs - just switch channels and see what else is on. Having lots of channels is also good for families who want to watch a range of different shows.
Internet and cable TV bundles
- DVR capabilities. DIRECTV, DISH, and Sling TV all have their own versions of Digital Video Recording, or DVR capability. You get to record your favorite shows, skip commercials, and watch them on your schedule. You can even record several shows while watching something else!
Other Cheap TV Service to Consider
Here are a few more to consider if you need more options:
- PlayStation Vue: PlayStation Vue is Sony's equivalent of Sling TV.
It's an app which you can install on your smart device, and it relies on the internet to deliver content. While it does come from PlayStation, you don't need the gaming console to run it. You can install the app on most smart devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, and most Windows and MacOS web browsers.
For a no-contract monthly subscription, you get a bundle of live TV channels, such as NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX. You also get DVR-like features and on-demand programming.
One thing we don't like is that their plans range from $39/month to $75/month - that's as expensive as traditional cable and satellite TV.
At the highest tier though, you get all the local channels, plus HBO and Showtime.
You can stream up to five devices with a single PlayStation Vue account, although there are limitations based on specific devices.
Check their website to see what these are.
Their cloud DVR also lets you record unlimited amount of live TV for 28 days, which we like.
One of PlayStation Vue's biggest strengths is its technology. The app lets you:
- Bookmark favorite TV channels,
- Get recommendations on shows you might like,
- Save shows to cloud DVR for access across different devices, and
- Create separate profiles for each family member.
Its downside is that you'll need a fast internet connection to enjoy the app.
Speeds of at least 10Mbps is the minimum for uninterrupted service, but provides only lower-than-average resolution. For best quality, you'll need a connection in the 15-20Mbps range.
Best Cable TV Providers of 2020
Their prices are as expensive as traditional cable and satellite TV subscriptions too, although the upside is you won't be locked into a contract, and there are no equipment fees.
- Bookmark favorite TV channels,
- Netflix: Like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, Netflix is an online streaming app. The difference is that it focuses on original and on-demand content, rather than live TV.
This means you won't need DVR capability - you can choose to watch what you want, when you want.
The downside is that Netflix's library isn't quite as updated. Viewers must wait an average of 10 months for a TV show's latest season to debut on Netflix.
This isn't a problem if you just want to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but if you're the type who must watch a show as it comes out, Netflix isn't for you.
However, Netflix more than makes up for this with its critically-acclaimed original content. Shows like House of Cards, Stranger Things and Narcos are Netflix exclusives, making it well worth the subscription.
Netflix's subscription service is different from most TV providers. They have three plans, which is the Basic ($7.99/month), Standard ($9.99/month) and Premium ($11.99/month).
Unlike most TV plans, all of Netflix's plans gives access to the same content. Higher tiered plans simply allow more simultaneous streaming and access to high definition.
Like most online TV subscriptions, Netflix doesn't require a contract. You can start and stop whenever you like, with no penalties. Their app also works on most smart devices, so you won't have to worry about device compatibility.
We love Netflix because it's cheap, easy, and has some great original content.
Still, it's not a replacement for live TV channels. Consider this more as a supplement to your live TV subscription.
- Hulu with Live TV: Hulu is a mix between Netflix and Sling TV.
Starting at $40/month, you'll have access to about 50 broadcast and cable channels, including live sports, as well as the normal on-demand content from Hulu.
They provide you with about 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage, which can be upgraded to 200 hours for $14.99/month. The upgrade also gives you the ability to fast forward through recorded commercials, which you can't do with the base subscription.
Hulu with Live TV can be streamed on two separate devices at the same time. If you want more streams, you can add the Unlimited Screens upgrade for $14.99/month, which lets you stream content to an unlimited number of devices from your home network. However, outside of your home, you can only stream on three devices.
Premier channels like Showtime, Cinemax, and HBO can also be added to your package for a monthly fee.
Streaming TV Deals
What we don't like about Hulu are the ads on their on-demand library. However, they do offer an ad-free version for $4/month extra. Also, there are a few big channels that Hulu doesn't have. AMC is the biggest one, as well as channels from Viacom (which means no Comedy Central, MTV, Spike, Nickelodeon, and so on). Starz and Discovery channels aren't included either.
- Prime Video (Amazon Prime): In a nutshell, Amazon's 'Prime Video; membership grants on-demand streaming of Amazon's video collection.
Just like Netlfix, users are able to choose and stream Amazon TV and movie shows onto their smart devices.
Did you know: Prime Video members also have a choice of adding third-party channels such as Showtime, Starz, and HBO GO to their account, although these subscriptions will cost extra.
There's no contract for Prime Video, and users can subscribe for just $8.99/month. However, this will cost more over the long run compared to an Amazon Prime membership, which is only $99/year.
Amazon Prime members get access Prime Video as part of their subscription, on top of other benefits. If you're a frequent shopper or user of Amazon products, an Amazon Prime membership is definitely more worthwhile.What's the difference between Amazon Prime and Prime Video?
Amazon Prime is a membership program that gives you access and benefits to Amazon's full list of services and products, such as free shipping, access to their Kindle and Prime Music library, as well as other Amazon-specific deals and services.
Prime Video on the other hand, only grants access to their video library. Subscribing to Amazon Prime automatically includes Prime Video as part of the subscription.
What we like about Prime Video is that you can download selected shows and movies to watch offline.
There are restrictions however - there's a time limit to how long you can view the content offline, as well as a limitation on the number of titles you can download.
If you've reached the maximum number of downloads, you'd have to first delete some of them to free up the quota.
Note: Unlike Netflix, Amazon doesn't offer its full library with the susbscription. Only content marked as 'Prime' is available for viewing, and you'd have to pay to access other premium content. Still, you can try out their 30-day free trial, and watch some of Amazon's critically-acclaimed original content such as 'Transparent', and 'The Man in the High Castle' before deciding if its worth it.
- HBO NOW: HBO NOW is a stand-alone, streaming service which lets you watch all of HBO's content, on-demand. Like most internet TV providers there's no contract, and you can choose to terminate your service any time.
The service costs $15/month, and you can get it from either downloading and registering via the HBO NOW app, or by subscribing to it via internet or TV providers such as Hulu and Playstation Vue.
What we like about HBO NOW is that they're quite understanding of shared accounts - they allow members of the same household to log in and watch different streams at the same time. However the number of streams is limited (HBO doesn't disclose how many that is), and excess streams are simply blocked.
Despite HBO's renowned original content such as 'Game of Thrones' and 'The Wire', a downside of this service is that you'll only find content limited to HBO. Bigger households may want a bigger variety of shows, so you might want to consider HBO NOW as a supplement rather than a standalone TV subscription.
Note: HBO NOW doesn't currently offer offline viewing. You need an active, high-speed internet access to watch their shows, so if you're constantly travelling you might want to consider Amazon's Prime Video which lets you download content instead.
- CBS All Access: Like Netflix and Hulu, CBS All Access is also an online streaming subscription service that delivers on-demand content from CBS.
An additional perk is that select markets will also be able to stream their local CBS station live, but that depends on where the network has deals with the local station affiliates.
For their on-demand content, they currently offer two different subscriptions, which are:
- CBS All Access Limited Commercials ($5.99/month): Access to all on-demand shows with limited commercial interruptions.
- CBS All Access Free ($9.99/month): access to same content, but without commercials.
The 8 Best Cable TV Alternatives for 2020 (Rated & Reviewed)
However they do include a fine print that says that their Live TV includes commercials, and select shows will have promotional interruptions nonetheless.
They also have an annual fee structure. You can get the limited commercial plan for $59.99/ year, or the commercial-free plan at $99.99/ year, which means two months free for either plan.
In either plan you'll get to stream up to two simultaneous streams.
Customers also have the option to bundle Showtime with their subscription plan as part of a monthly package. The bundled cost would be $14.99/ month for the limited commercials plan, and $18.99/ month for the commercial free plan.
Users who subscribe annually won't be eligible for this add-on.
The biggest downside to CBS is that their line-up is a bit lacking. While they do provide a sizeable on-demand catalog, other options such as DIRECTV Now, Hulu with Live TV, and Playstation Vue all include CBS in their base packages. With these services offering DVR capability, you could get the best of CBS, as well as a wider variety of shows from other channels.
An exception to this would be original CBS shows like Star Trek: Discovery. Netflix, Amazon and HBO NOW have a bigger selection of original shows, and it might be better subscribing to them instead.
- CBS All Access Limited Commercials ($5.99/month): Access to all on-demand shows with limited commercial interruptions.
- YouTube TV: Like Sling TV and Playstation Vue, YouTube TV is an internet-based cable television. The service was launched earlier this year, delivering nearly 50 channels for $35/ month with no contract.
They've recently expanded their services, announcing that they're becoming available in 50% of US households. You can check the full list of where they are available at the official website.
Currently YouTube TV's lineup has major broadcast networks such as the ESPN channels, regional sports from Fox and Comcast, cable news from MSNBC and Fox News, as well as entertainment channels such as AMC, Nat Geo, and SyFy. YouTube TV also has the option of adding Showtime for $11/ month, and Fox Soccer Plus for $15/ month.
What we love about YouTube TV is that they have unlimited DVR recordings. You can record as many programs as you want at the same time, and your recordings will be stored for 9 months.
You'll also be able to stream from your library anywhere in the U.S.
YouTube is also generous with their account sharing. The membership comes with six accounts that can be shared with other members of your household, and each account will have their own login and personal DVR library. The downside is, only three simultaneous streams are allowed per membership.
Note: If you travel a lot, YouTube TV also works everywhere in the U.S.
However you can only watch local networks and sports programs in places that YouTube TV has launched. As for nationally available networks, you can tune in to them too, although some networks may have different versions for different time zones.
One downside with YouTube TV is that there's no way to skip ads, unless you record the show and fast forwarded through the ads.
Even then, occasionally the network will provide an on-demand version of the show you recorded. When this happens, the on-demand version will be played instead of your recorded version, and you can't skip the ads.
Another downside of YouTube TV is that they're missing some big channels such as Discovery, CNN, Comedy Central, and MTV, although we may see these channels being offered in the future.
There also aren't as many channels for kids on YouTube TV as there on Sling TV for example, which could be a potential problem for parents.
Still, YouTube TV is a young service, and they're constantly expanding their areas of operation as and selection of programs.
It probably won't be long before YouTube TV becomes a decent, affordable choice for cheap TV subscriptions.
Internet and TV Packages
If you're looking for more Internet + TV packages, here are some other options.
- Verizon Fios: The great thing about Verizon Fios is their fibre-optic network.
The advantage of fibre-optic is that they're able to carry much more data than traditional copper or coaxial cable, theoretically making their internet speeds faster. Their connections also have symmetrical speed, which means the speed is the same whether you're downloading or uploading. This can be useful for people who upload a lot of data online.
In practice however, Fios's commercial internet speeds are comparable to other internet providers such as Comcast's Xfinity and Cox Communications, who use coaxial cable.
Fios has three 'double play' packages, which refers to their internet and TV bundle. At the lowest tier they provide 50 Mbps internet, and the 'Fios TV Local' plan which includes 15+ channels, with 5+ of them being in HD for $49.99/month.
The plan includes most of the major networks such as ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and PBS. The overall package is quite basic, but the upside is that there is no annual contract.
For the highest tier plan, you'd have to sign up for a 2-year contract, although the rates are locked in during that period.
You get 150 Mbps internet, as well as their 'Preferred HD TV' package for $94.99/month. The 'Preferred HD TV' package features 255+ channels, with 80+ of them being in HD. They also inlude the SHOWTIME movie channel, as well as the Multi-Room DVR Enhanced Service, which allows you to record up to six shows at once, and up to 100 hours of recorded shows.
Note: Do have a look at the fine print before signing up however. There are early termination fees if you decide to break the contract, as well as other hidden costs such as broadcast, installation, and equipment fees.
- Xfinity : Like Verizon's Fios, Comcast's Xfinity also provides internet, and TV services, however Xfinity uses coaxial cable for their internet connection.
This doesn't necessarily mean their internet speeds are slower - their advertized standalone internet package speeds can go up to 2000 Mbps, which is a lot faster than Fios's 500 Mbps.
However with Xfinity, bear in mind that their bundle packages and plans are constantly changing, and service and pricing would depend on your location.
It's best to check their site to see what the ongoing offer is.
Generally, lower tiered plans will have 100+ channels with 25-75 Mbps internet, while higher tiered ones will have more than 260+ channels with at least 75-100 Mbps internet. Higher tiered packages are likely to have premium channels such as HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ, CINEMAX and TMC too.
As for DVR capability, Xfinity's X1 Set-top DVR unit can record up to six shows at once, and has 500GB of storage, or 60 hours of HD programming.
- Cox : Similar to Xfinity, Cox offers several bundled Internet + TV packages that are constantly changing, so it's best to visit the official site and see what's available. Plans start from as low as $44.99/month, to $129.99/ month. For that price range you'll find packages with internet speeds ranging from 15 Mbps to 300 Mbps, coupled with TV plans that have 75+ to 250+ channels.
Cox has two DVR units, which comes with a monthly rental fee.
The 'Contour Record 2 HD-DVR' unit costs $21.49/month, and can record up to two simultaneous recordings with 200 hours of DVR storage. The more advanced unit, the 'Contour Record 6 HD-DVR', costs $28.49/month, and can record up to six simultaneous recordings with 1000 hours of DVR storage.
With Cox, beware the fine print also. There are equipment rental charges, activation fees, and installation fees included in the fine print, so make sure you verify how much the final total is before subscribing.
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If your TV provider is also your phone carrier, it may be hard to switch things up if you're unhappy with the quality of your calls.
This article from DeadCellZones explains why you should think about changing service if your phone consistently drops calls.
Cutting the Cord
Cutting the cord means to unsubscribe to traditional cable and satellite TV in favour of wireless or internet TV. Users may prefer services such as Netflix and Playstation Vue which have no contract or equipment rental fees. This makes them generally cheaper than cable and satellite TV.
If you're looking to cut the cord, here's a list of helpful equipment that can help you with wireless TV.
- PlayOn Software: The 'PlayOn Desktop' app is a Windows PC program which lets you access online video streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, and Comedy Central via the app itself. From your PC, the app can then stream these channels to any compatible playback device, such as a Roku Box, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, and even gaming consoles such as the Xbox and Playstation.
This comes in handy because even if your TV or media streamer doesn't provide access to a specific site that PlayOn has access to, you can still watch it via the PlayOn app. As long as your TV or media streamer can access your PC running PlayOn, you can access all the streaming sites/ channels that PlayOn provides.
Another major advantage of the PlayOn app is the DVR feature, which comes with the paid version of the app ($69.99 for a lifetime license, $7.99 monthly, or $30 annually). The upgraded version allows you to record and save videos from any of their channels, and the saved content can then be watched offline, or streamed to media servers and other devices compatible with the PlayOn App.Did you know? The Xbox One gaming console can be integrated with your TV through several ways. If you have a cable or satellite subscription for example, you can connect the console with your cable or satellite box and control it directly with the Xbox One.
You can also connect the console with a USB TV tuner, which acts like an antenna to catch over-the-air TV.
If you prefer on-demand content, apps from services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and HBO can also be installed directly onto the Xbox One, or you can even visit the Microsoft virtual store to buy or rent TV shows and movies directly via the 'Movies & TV' app.
- Antenna: Most of us are so used to TV service providers these days, we forget that most over-the-air broadcast channels such as CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and PBS are available for free.
How to Cut the Cord and Never Pay for Cable TV Again
All you have to do is purchase an antenna to receive the signal, which typically costs less than $100.
There are two major types of antennas - indoor types, which are placed inside your home next to your TV set, and outdoor antennas, which are mounted on the roof. Generally, outdoor antennas will have better reception and give a clearer picture. However, if you live in a strategic location close to the broadcast towers, you can still get a good signal even with an indoor antenna.
Tip: You might hear the term 'analog' and 'digital/HDTV' antennas, although there isn't any real difference between them. All antennas operate the same way - however, antennas that are designed to capture both UHF and VHF signals are generally bigger.
1. Disney+ ($7–13 per month)
When choosing an antenna, make sure that it can receive both UHF and VHF signals to ensure you can receive all the channels available.
- Tablo: If you want over-the-air (OTA) TV and also a DVR unit to record your favourite shows, Tablo is a good choice. It's a wireless DVR unit, which connects with your TV antenna to capture free over-the-air (OTA) broadcast channels. It can record your favourite shows and stream or playback content to any compatible internet-connected devices.
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There are three models to choose from, which is the Tablo 2-Tuner OTA ($159.99) which can record up to two channels at the same time, the Tablo DUAL OTA ($219.99) which also records two channels but comes with a 64GB onboard storage, and the Tablo 4-Tuner OTA ($299.99) which can record four streams simultaneously.
- What is satellite TV and how does it work?
Satellite TV is a television system whereby a broadcast center broadcasts a digital signal to a satellite in the sky.
The satellite in turn sends the signal back to earth, where it is picked up by a satellite dish, converted to a TV picture by a receiver, and displayed on a TV screen.
Examples of satellite TV providers: DIRECTV and DISH.
- What is an internet streaming app, and how does that work?
An internet streaming app also brings content to your TV or smart device, but instead of receiving a signal from a satellite, it streams directly from the internet.
This works best for people with fast internet connection with no data limitations, since streaming HD content uses gigabytes of information per hour.
Examples of internet streaming apps: Netflix, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV.
- What's the difference between Live TV and On-demand content?
Think of live TV as traditional television - programs are broadcast on a fixed schedule, and are mostly supported by ads.
If there's a particular show you'd like to watch, you'd have to be in front of your TV when the show starts.
That's why most live TV providers also come with a DVR, so you can record your favorite shows and watch them on your own time.
Video on-demand, on the other hand, provides content when you want it. You can choose the movies or shows you want to watch, and watch them on your schedule.
- Do I need a smart TV to use a streaming app?
No. If you don't have a smart TV, you can use a streaming media player. Streaming media players are devices which connect your TV to the internet. After plugging in a player to your TV's HDMI port, you can then stream channels onto your TV from any smart device.
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The minimum requirement is that your TV must have an HDMI port. However, there are some streaming media players which use composite A/V cables (red/white/yellow connectors), like the Roku 1 model.
Examples of streaming media players: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast.
Terms to Know
- Pay TV: Pay TV refers to a paid subscription to non-commercial TV programming, usually provided by cable, satellite, and internet TV providers. Service providers would offer different channel packages for a monthly fee, and users would select packages based on the number and type of channels they want.
Many providers require users to sign a contract, but there are some that provide month-to-month subscription. Certain premium channels, such as HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ would sometimes need subscriptions of their own.
Traditionally, service providers using cable or satellite technology would need users to install a decoder in their home to receive a signal.
However, there are TV providers who use the internet to deliver their service, and users would only need high-speed internet to enjoy their subscription.
- HDTV: HDTV stands for high-definition television, and refers to digitally broadcasted video. Digital format videos are able to fit in higher 720 pixels or 1080 pixels resolution, as compared to traditional analog formats with lower resolution.
- TV Station: A TV station is the set of broadcast equipment managed by a business or organisation, which transmits video content via radio signals from a transmitter on the earth's surface.
Users receive this transmission via receiver from their home, which then translates the signals into TV channels and programs.
- Converter box: A converter box, (also known as digital television adapter), is a cheap device which converts over-the-air digital signals to analog signals, which can then be used by older analog TVs.
Picking a TV service provider depends on a lot of things, like your budget and location. Generally, if you have a great internet connection with limitless data, internet streaming apps may be the cheaper option. You also get to benefit from not being locked into a contract, and not paying monthly equipment rental fees.
However, satellite TV providers generally have more channels and better DVR functionality. If you have a big household with multiple occupants (and TVs), it's better to save on your data and go with satellite instead.
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